Blog Archives

A downtown Phoenix photo quilt


[Source: The Daily Render] — Nikolas Schiller is a 28-year-old cartographer, consultant, digital artist, researcher, photographer, civil rights activist, and blogger living in Washington, D.C.  Nikolas created this derivative map of downtown Phoenix.  He liked the way the rooftop of the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. District Court creates a nice design around the center.  To view additional map quilts of Phoenix, click here.

Talton offers alternative view on downtown Phoenix Civic Space

[Source: John Talton, Rogue Columnist] — Former Arizona Republic columnist Jon Talton still thinks and writes about his old hometown, Phoenix.  Upon returning to his current home from a recent visit and book signing tour in Arizona, Jon wrote the following blog post about the new downtown Phoenix Civic Space (in contrast to this other local blogger’s view):

“…Which brings me to the Floating Diaphragm.  That’s what local wags have dubbed the “public art” project that is the signature of the new park on Central Avenue downtown between ASU and the Y.  At night, it’s stunning.  A floating purple dream.  But, as with the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse, this is something designed by someone with no knowledge of local conditions.  After the first big monsoon, look for the diaphragm in your neighborhood — Gilbert would be appropriate, with its sex phobia and sex scandals. 

The park — we’ll see.  Phoenix is not good at civic spaces.  It’s unclear if it will have enough shade and grass to be inviting year-round.  And nobody can stop the creeping gravelization of the once-oasis central city.  City Hall sets a terrible example.  The old Willo House has been spiffed up as Hob Nobs.  But it’s surrounded by gravel and a couple of fake palm trees — who wouldn’t want to be around that 140-dgree heat surface on a summer day? And there are more of them — the natives and long-timers agree the falls and springs have shrunk to a week or two, and winter is getting shorter (and it lacks the frosts that once kept the mosquito population in check).  The central city needs lots of shade trees and grass, to offset the heat island effect.  It is a much better water investment than new golf courses or more sprawl.  Nobody’s listening.  Almost: The Park Central Starbucks has made its outdoor space even more lush, shady, and comfy. 

Back to the diaphragm.  It’s definitely better than the “public art” you whiz by at Sky Harbor because it focuses a civic space, the kind of walkable, gathering places great cities have and Phoenix mostly lacks.  Some art at the light-rail stations is quite well done.  But, there’s a deadening sameness.  My friend, the Famous Architect, likes to rib me, “Not everything old is good.”  True enough. But not everything new is good, either.  I’d love to see some classical statues and artwork downtown to, say, commemorate the heroic pioneer farmers, the heroic, displaced indigenous peoples, the heroic Mexican-Americans, the heroic African-Americans from this once very Southern town and the heroic Chinese-Americans.  Just two or three would offer some contrast and variety, and, I suspect, unsophisticated oaf that I am, elevate and inspire more souls who communed with them.  It would also give the lie, in visual form, to the newcomer lie that “there’s no history here.” 

Another wish I won’t get.  [Note: To read the full blog posting, click here.]

Light rail stations feature art to connect with 20 miles of communities

Additionally, highly detailed, carved granite benches will provide shaded seating on the platform.

Light rail art and seating, downtown Phoenix (Photo: Dave Seibert, Arizona Republic)

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — The opening of the 20-mile Metro light-rail system on Dec. 27 will coincide with one of the Valley’s biggest art openings in recent years: $6.3 million in sculptures, tiles, and other elements that adorn every station on the line.  Some of the art is monumental, like the giant stone ring sculpture installed at Central Avenue and Camelback Road.  Other pieces are more subtle, like the terrazzo floor at First Avenue and Jefferson Street that features an image of Sandra Day O’Connor, the former U.S. Supreme Court justice from Arizona.  Taken together, though, they bring poetry to the prosaic world of mass transit. “The art helps to tell a story,” said Eric Iwersen, a Tempe planner who sat on the board that oversaw the art program.  “It helps to set us apart from any other system in the world.”

The story that Metro’s art tries to tell is the story of the Valley. Across the line, pieces reflect the neighborhoods around them.  A river-like canopy at Priest Drive and Washington Street in Tempe echoes the nearby Rio Salado.  At Central and Indian School Road, glass panels set into the entryway feature historic photographs of the area.  “It’s really about bringing the character of that community into the station so that we are a reflection of the community,” said Rick Simonetta, CEO of Metro light rail.  More than two dozen artists from around the country contributed to the system’s aesthetic features, with about 40% of them Arizona natives.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]